Blessed In Exile

Here we are at the final installment for this series of postings.  It has been, for me, an arduous task of writing about very difficult topics.  My plate of spaghetti has many other strands that I have to chew through in my healing process, but after today we can sop up the sauce of this topic, as I have forgiven and moved on. 

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Finally, I imploded and pursued illegal pornography.

It may be hard to believe but for me, my case is a blessing.  

There is joy in the tribulation.

How can I say that when I’ve left my wife to deal with life all alone?  It opened the door for me to get the help I needed, still need.  I do not recommend my path as the path to healing but if it hadn’t happened I’m sure I’d be dead today due to suicide.  Sounds dramatic but it’s true.  And sad.

Help for me came from a talented and competent psychologist well trained in sexual recovery as well as addiction.  I have to admit that admitting I was an addict and hearing the diagnoses of PTSD, Delusional Disorder, and Dissociative Disorder was scary because it also meant out of control psychologically.  Yet once I knew what was wrong I could face it head on and use my intellect in a healthy, productive way.  The thing I valued most had a different purpose: uncover and heal verses cover up and hurt.  Another blessing!

Where am I today? 

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I’m proud to say I’m a rehabilitated addict.  I’ll always be an addict – that’s the nature of the beast, the monkey, yet it’s under control for the first time in over 45 years.  You might say, “of course it is, you’re in prison,” but I assure you that pornography is readily available and cheap.  I see today the horror in addiction and use and in fact its very existence.  I read of younger and younger (children!) people viewing it on the internet and so developing ill-defined views/beliefs/perspectives on human sexuality and intimacy.  It is a scourge.

As for addressing the hurts of my childhood, I feel I’ve done pretty much what I can.  There are no answers for all the ‘why’ questions.  The relative that abused me is gone yet I still love and miss them – I hold no ill feelings.  I do however have a new understanding of their role in my life.  Now I know them to be someone as broken as me, suffering their own hurts, who acted inappropriately and in so doing aiding, driving, my ill developed views and beliefs around human sexuality and intimacy.

My childhood was far from normal and holistically healthy in many measures.  That is not to say there weren’t times of true childhood though.  I had loving parents, siblings, fights, resentments, laughs, and healthy love.  Separating the good from the bad has not been easy but I believe I finally have.

What’s left? 

The PTSD, its associated depression, the hallucinations and much of the work to overcome and/or manage their effects.

What help is available in prison? 

Honestly, very little at my location and other non-medical locations.  Unless you’re horribly non-functioning and/or a danger to yourself and/or others you won’t get the help you really need.

They work to keep you stable, not heal. 

I’m blessed that the psychologist, Julie, I worked with outside is still working with me by letter while I’m here.  She is as committed to my full recovery as I am.  The challenge is in the trying to do this kind of work through writings with weeks between responses.  But I write.

I want out of the mental illness prison.  I do understand though that much of it is about management and understanding.  Recovery may mean I think differently and manage the left over.

I began my first medication in July of 2014.  It is a mood stabilizer to help with the suicidal thoughts and has helped some.  I also began my first medication for the hallucinations in August of this year, 2016.  I had to go off due to the side effects.  I began a second medication but it’s too early to judge effectiveness or side effects.  More to come.

I wonder what life without all the people, voices and noises will be like.  I wonder if I’ll feel more human or lost without them.  I do know they are all unhealthy coping mechanisms and I, like a child, have to learn appropriate and healthy coping mechanisms.

Can you teach a 53 year old dog new tricks? 

I’m committed but I wonder, am I capable? 

Time will tell. 

~ jdoe

Pasta For One, But Many To Feed

In Life Is Like A … Bowl Of Spaghetti and Spaghetti … And A Few Meatballs you read about the history of sexual abuse I suffered as well as the initial mental illness.  Here you’ll read how that mental illness manifested itself and grew into my adult life.

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At age fifteen two new people became visible to me: Pam and Mr. Carhart.  I know today that Pam represents good and Mr. Carhart evil.  How do I know their positions?  Mr. Carhart appeared first and was instrumental in my first suicide attempt.  Pam appeared shortly after the attempt and stands between me and Mr. Carhart and comforts me.

Shortly after my second suicide attempt at age twenty a group of people became mostly visible.  They number seven and sit (3) and stand (4) in a misty haze.  All I can tell about them is they’re human but there is no level of facial/physical detail beyond that.  I can tell two are children, two are adolescents, and three are adults.  And I think they represent those three phases of growth for me.

By age twenty-one, I was dealing with a severe addiction to pornography, voices and noises inside my head, Pam, Mr. Carhart, and The Seven in The Mist as well as colors and patterns in my field of vision.  There were also three others who would make occasional, short appearances at times of extreme emotional crisis.  I was a mess and no one knew.

I told no one.

I kept it all to myself for many reasons – none healthy as I now know.  I was afraid of what it all might mean, the stigma and what might happen to me.  After all, haven’t we all seen what happens to ‘crazy’ people on TV and in the movies?!  Institutionalized and drugged!  I was also afraid of what it might mean for my mind.  I’m a pretty intelligent person and I’ve always valued my intellect.  It’s what kept me ‘sane’ and helped me achieve many things.   Of course it’s also what lead to my current place in exile.  My mind, my ego, said, “I can handle it all,” and for many years it did –  sort of.

I began to seriously break at age 48.  The repressed memories of the rape began to push from subconscious to conscious.  The images seemed so unreal and fantastical that I was convinced they were created out of my own addiction to porn.  How or when did I, a solid heterosexual, have a penis in my mouth?! And in my anus?!  It was too awful to be true.

I also started to have serious, more serious actually, issues in interpersonal relationships with my wife, family , friends and employees.  My work was suffering and I began planning suicide again.  I was a mess again and I told no one.

I told myself I could handle it all. 

I was wrong.

My hope – if anyone reading this has suffered as I did and/or deals with mental illness, you will heed my advice and get help. 

Do it today.  Do not wait.  Do not remain in that prison. 

Almost there, one more part.  Next I discuss my breakdown and how I ended up here in exile. ~ jdoe

Spaghetti … And A Few Meatballs

In part one of this posting, Life Is Like A … Bowl Of Spaghetti, I wrote of being raped at age 5 by a boy of 14 and why I never revealed this horrible experience to my parents or any adult.  Here I’ll talk about the impacts of that decision … and the meatballs added to my bowl of spaghetti.

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Within several months of the attack I began to see a person.  He was a boy of about my age and he looked very much like Will Robinson of the Lost In Space TV series popular at the time.  The difference being however, the person I saw looked like he was made like the soap bubbles you blow from those plastic wands.  He was a clear, blue-ish, shiny looking boy with human features and as I said looked much like the actor Bill Mumy.  I called him Little Boy.  We would talk and play together and sometimes I’d do the mischievous things he suggested.   Like what?  Stealing nickels and dimes from Mom’s change to buy candy (it was a whole lot cheaper then) or getting out of bed to play.  Nothing too horrible but they were ‘his’ ideas.

Several times I spoke of Little Boy with my mother, even blaming him when caught taking those coins, and she spoke of imaginary friends; that they’re not real.  This assessment was even confirmed by both friends and a teacher at school when I spoke with them about Little Boy.  Yet he was as real to me as anyone reading this post!  Yes, he was transparent but we talked and played.  He was, unknown to my mom, more than an imaginary friend.  He was a coping mechanism, an outcome of the suppressed emotional trauma, and someone I could trust with me.

Little Boy was the beginning –

The first fruits –

Of my stepping into mental illness. 

And into a prison very different from the physical one in which I now reside.

When I was seven, a relative began to abuse me sexually.  It’s unbelievable I know that this would come independently of the rape in the barn but sadly, it’s true.  I trusted this person and loved them and they used these feelings to impose upon me.  They also used pornography (the roots of my addiction to pornography) to ‘teach’ me what to do – a pictorial ‘how to’ so to speak.  Through coercive acts and words they gained my ‘cooperation’ and I participated with fear and great anxiety.

I dealt with this in two ways: By relying more upon Little Boy and repressing memories of the sexual abuse.  Again, a chosen method for protecting myself; my psyche.  The repression started by ‘forgetting’ the rape in the barn.  I had no conscious  memory of that horrible event by the time I was eight.

My second step into mental illness.

Around the time I was eleven Little Boy left.  I was devastated by his abandonment.  I trusted and needed him.  Over that time, my growing from five to eleven, our conversations had changed.  Originally he was a playmate but over time he’d become a true confidant.

Little Boy’s departure led to my third step into mental illness –

The voices in my head.

It’s not clear to me how long after Little Boy’s exit the voices started but my belief is a few months.  There are two (yes, I still have them) and one is young (I perceive he is Little Boy) and the other is an adult male with a gravelly voice.  I have no idea who, if anyone in particular, he may represent.  What do they say?  It varies.  Sometimes they argue over what I should do next, sometimes they narrate what I’m doing, “He’s eating an apple,” for example, and often they tell me to kill myself.

When I was young I would speak with them much like I spoke with Little Boy but as I grew I began to live and act, mostly, independently of them.  I say mostly because I did attempt suicide twice but that’s another blog posting altogether except to say here that those attempts were due to the accumulations of lessons learned from messages of home dysfunctionalities and sexual abuse.  I believe we can now chew our last bits of the first strand of pasta by saying that the sexual relationship between my relative and me lasted until I was just over eighteen.

Hang in there!  Next I’ll talk about mental illness from my teens to about age 50… jdoe

Life Is Like A … Bowl Of Spaghetti

As I prepared and had posted the writing on healing and prayer (It’s All About The Healing & The Healing Continues), I realized that such a posting might not make sense in its entirety unless I wrote and posted more about myself.  With that realization came a not so simple question:

Where do I begin?

Beginning is not easy because I will be making parts of my life, and my family’s lives, public for the first time.  Beginning is not easy because there is still pain.  Beginning is not easy because lives are convoluted and have intertwining threads of experiences, thoughts, emotions and so much more.  I imagine life to look like a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.  You can’t remove one strand of spaghetti without touching a dozen others and perhaps jostling a meatball or two.  So the question became: which strand first and how do I take the first bite?

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The longest bits of pasta in my life’s bowl are the ones that begin with the sexual abuse I suffered as a child and end with the ensuing mental illness I now battle.  Since one strand beget the other it only makes sense that my first bite is to share the experiences of my childhood.

Laying bare all that was wrong in my youth would imply there was no good, no loving and no hope.  This is simply not true.  It was always clear to me that my parents loved me and wanted what was in my best interest.  All my basic, and sometimes beyond, material needs were met.  Guidance in decision making was given when they knew it was needed.  Wounds were mended and discipline was meted out mostly fairly.  We were, by all outward appearances and most inward measures, the Brady Bunch Family.  Many of my friends would comment to that effect even in using the TV show’s idyllic family as the comparison.

Yet no family is perfect.  We had our dysfunctional issues like all families.  Some issues though would be less common than others and in these lay the foundation for secrets and hurt.  Secrets spawn secrets, drive decision making, and create alliances.  For example, there are family secrets to which all family members are privy and decisions around it are commonly understood even if all are not part of the decision making; or the matter is left unspoken and a common understanding exists.  Then there are the secrets within the formed alliances.  Examples of this could be those kept by the parents, who decide to keep them from the children, and those kept among the children, who decide to keep them from the parents.  Finally, there are those secrets held by each individual, who decide to keep them from everyone.  And for each dysfunctional issue this layering exists.  I believe this to be true of essentially all families.  It’s all then put under the cover of, “It’s our private business,” which it actually is; with all risks of damage ignored.

The issues arise when this all leads to lies among the family members themselves.  Some of those lies are by definition lies of omission and for me those fed into the sexual  abuse because it kept hidden from those who could have, and I’m certain would have, stopped the abuse – my parents.  They didn’t know until I was 51 years old, and they still wouldn’t know if not for the issue that sent me into exile here in prison.  I had no choice but to talk about it and release the lies and expose the truths.

So what are the truths?

When I was five years old our family went to visit my mother’s parents, who had a dairy farm.  I, as a city kid being raised in a suburban setting, thought the farm to be a wonderful place to spend a week or two each summer.

That year we all went to visit family friends of my grandparents, also dairy farmers.  It was while visiting this family that their fourteen year old son cornered my sister and me in the hay loft of their barn and he raped me in front of my sister.  [I believe he raped my sister later that same day, though I have no solid evidence to prove my belief.]

Did I or my sister scream while I was being attacked?  Sadly, no.

Why didn’t I scream?  During the attack I dissociated.  I didn’t even cry!  I fled mentally as I could not flee physically.  It’s how I kept my psyche safe.  Today I see the incident in my mind’s eye as a movie though I can indeed recall the pain and humiliation.

Why my sister didn’t scream or attempt to run away is not clear to me and never will be as she passed away more than a decade ago without our having ever discussed that day.

It’s incredible to think we could go our entire lives without discussing such a traumatic and horrific event but it’s true.

“Why?” you ask or maybe “How?” 

Remember I wrote of secrets being spawned by the dysfunctionalities of a family?  This was one secret my sister and I made a pact to keep the evening of the event.

Our reasons for not telling our parents are both simple and complex.  Within moments of the attack the boy was telling my sister and me how much trouble we’d be in if the adults ever found out.  He ‘explained’ how I had ‘participated’ and ‘wanted’ it to happen and he even used my silence during the attack as proof.  Fear and confusion began working to control me.  That’s the simple part.

The complex part is difficult to concisely put into words.  It’s all about the lessons you learn from your interpretations of messages sent while growing up.  My sister and I interpreted messages sent due to my father’s alcoholism as, “you’ll have to take care of yourselves sometimes.”  As well as messages sent due to the availability of pornography in our home as, “these acts are okay,” and, “the boundaries of privacy, modesty and personal space are blurry,” and, “people touch in very personal ways.”  When all of these things are combined in children from the very first memories they have the children form incorrect, even permanently damaged, views of parental roles and human sexuality.  And in this explanation I’ve really only scratched the surface!

So during the attack did my sister see what was happening to me as “normal” due to the images we’d seen in the magazines at home?  I’m not sure.  It’s in my heart though that she had no malice or ill intent in my mind by remaining still.  I believe it was in great part that she was as shocked and scared as I was.  I’ll never know as our pact remained until her death.

How did the pact come to be?  When visiting my grandparent’s farm my sister and I would share a bed in a room separate from our parents.  The night of the attack [attacks if I’m right that this boy raped my sister as well] we laid in bed and talked about the event in vague terms, the pain I felt, and in childhood terms how the boy was a ‘jerk’.  For the reasons I wrote earlier: lessons from messages sent due to the alcoholism and availability of pornography, as well as the boy’s words about our getting in trouble if we told, my sister and I agreed it would be our secret and we’d never talk of it again.  And from that night until her death, we didn’t.  Not once.

Now things become even more complex as we’ve not finished the first strand of pasta, and now we need to begin eating the second strand; that of the ensuing mental illness.  So I’ll combine the two issues – childhood sexual abuse and mental illness – into one narrative. Please come back as there’s more pasta in this bowl.    ~jdoe

A Journey Begun

Hello and welcome to My-040.  If you were hoping to find a blog about turning 40 years old I’m sorry to say this ain’t it – However I invite you to stay and look around; you may find this to be what you need in times of tribulation.

The blog’s name, My-040, comes from the collision of three main themes: My incarceration (Exile), God’s punishment of the Israelites being sent into captivity (Exile), and the Federal District from which I come – 040.  I’m convinced these align for a reason.  I hope you’ll visit regularly to discover how I’m letting God lead me through my time in captivity, the wilderness, exile.

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This blog is for all those living in a prison of any type whether it be true incarceration, depression, an abusive relationship, addiction – especially addiction to pornography of any form, mental illness, childhood sexual abuse – such a long and sad list cut short.

This blog is also for anyone looking for new perspectives on how God touches us all.  I’ve found that my old self is not who I, or God, wants me to be and to find that self is a journey I hope you’ll take with me.

I ask very little of you:   1) Please do not post hate of any form, including foul language.  I have the support of a loved one, my sister, in managing this site and the postings.  She didn’t break the law, I did.  Please don’t make her suffer in her love for me;  2) If you have positive, constructive ideas on how I might improve this blog please post or email; 3) Feel free to post questions on any subject on this site (See my bio I am… John Doe, the purpose of this blog Joy In The Tribulation, and ASCSA) but please be patient in waiting for a response as I have to use the U.S. Mail and turn around time can be up to two weeks (Contact & How This Works).

It is one of my sincerest hopes that you will walk my journey with me and find your way out of whatever wilderness, prison, captivity, or exile you find yourself living.  I’ve begun and am already becoming renewed into a new life.  Unbelievably, I’m finding true freedom behind the razor wire topped fencing.  I hope you’ll enjoy your time here.

Again, Welcome.  John Doe